Purpose, development and scope.

Most people readily understand the relationship between Naval Aircraft and Aircraft Carriers. Naval Aircraft have limitations that require supporting facilities be within the flight range of the theater of operation- and Aircraft Carriers provide those facilities anywhere in the world they are needed. What many people don't readily know - is that for the first 100+ years the United States Silent Service also had a similar support fleet - in the form of Submarine Tenders. The purpose of TenderTale is to provide a reference of those ships and crews that provided that vital support.

Much of who and what I am today is a direct result of my time as a Submarine Sailor. In conversations with folks - both former sailors and others - I discovered that just as the serving in the Silent Service is very unique - so is serving aboard a Submarine Tender. Other former tender sailors often share similar impressions of their experiences - quite different from more typical Navy billets. Several years ago - I decided to chronicle my experience as a Submarine Tender Sailor - to try to explore those experiences and feeling both for my own understanding - and to share those with others. While working on my story - I did some research to make sure I had some dates and details as accurate as I could - and in the process - also learned a great deal about the ship I served on. At the time - I was vaguely aware of some of the basics - the ships was built during World War II - and supported submarines in the Pacific. But most of the history and information provided through "official sources" - concentrated more on the ship's current mission, operational status and routines - rather than on past accomplishments. Considering the ship was built to support the Fleet Boats of World War II - and was now (at the time) supporting modern Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines - it's no wonder the difference in the ships mission and operation was worlds and decades apart. I was fascinated to learn that my ship - and her brood - had a remarkable record during World War II. The more I learned - the more I interesting I found Submarine Tender history in general and TenderTale began to grow. TenderTale today covers 30 ships of the "early" era that served (under orders) as Submarine Tenders - and of course the 35 "AS" designated Submarine Tenders of the "modern" era.

As TenderTale grew in coverage - I realized that there were other tenders, repair and support ships whose stories also deserved to be told. However - I also realized that to do a credible and complete job for all of these ships would be a task far beyond my abilities and resources. So the decision was made to limit TenderTale to just Submarine Tenders of the United States Navy. I leave the history of those other ships to their crew members. That decision is not popular with some - but a decision I have become increasingly convinced was the correct one. I am still struggling to complete all of the sections of TenderTale with that very narrow view - there is no way I could do justice to several hundred additional ships.

Final Chapter:
When I started TenderTale in 1996 - I had no notion of there ever being an "end" to TenderTale - certainly not documented by me. Submarine Tender history covers more than 100 years- no reason to suspect that it wouldn't go on for many years to come... However - recent events are forcing a decision:  by my own definition of "Scope": coverage of United States Navy Submarine Tenders ONLY - and now there are none. Is it indeed time to write the last chapter of TenderTale?  Needless to say - that's not a decision I'm in a hurry to make... though I fully realize there is little hope the Navy will their mind. Admiral Chester Nimitz was once credited with saying "Well, we all know the Navy's never wrong. But in this case, it was a little weak on bein' right". While I have no idea if the Admiral actually ever said that (the line is from the movie "In Harms Way"); it sounds enough like him - and certainly matches the experience many of us have with Navy policy: The Right Way, The Wrong Way - and The Navy Way. Right or wrong - doing away with (full service and manned) US Navy Submarine Tenders is a decisions we all are going to have to live with for a long time. Still... for the time being - I'm going to "wait and see."

How the Site is Organized: What's where and why

Tendertale has two major sections: History and News. Those sections are subdivided:
A TenderTale:
A narrative about the beginning of the Submarine Tender era - which took it's final form as an article for UnderSea Warfare Summer 2002 issue. The article provides an overview of the how submarine tenders came about and a close up of the relationship focusing on one tender and her brood during WWII. This forms TenderTale History Part I .
The Tenders.
Many ships have provided support for submarines over the years - but specific ships had orders directing their primary mission as Submarine Tender. For organization sake - the ships have been divided into "early" and "modern" groups - with the distinction of the modern tenders being identified by their "AS" designation. TenderTale has identified 30 "early" tenders so far - and there have been 35 "AS" designated ships in the "modern" period. Each ship has a page dedicated to that ship and her time as a tender- providing specifics about the ship - her movements and support provided. This fills in details in the overall history from the perspective of each ship.
One of the Tender's primary advantages is that it is a complete base that can relocate and resume support as needed where needed. Certain locations became favorite sites due to resources and their strategic value. A portion of the tender's history is best told by looking at where - and why - tenders were deployed. Each significant deployment site has a page detailing the history of tenders deployed there. Exceptions are "Theater" deployments - such as World War One and Two; Asiatic Station, etc. which are self-explanatory.
The Tales:
TenderTale one through five:  Here a specific Sailor's experience as a Submarine Tender crew member. Each "slice" of tender life is related in the first person to hopefully give the reader some notion of what it was like to be a Tender Sailor at that time and place. All are true as best the writer can recall.
Sailor's Pages -
a more general look at Tender Sailors - The first story is about "When Sail met Submersible" based on a photo called "The Old Navy" taken in 1888 (yes, that's no mistake Eighteen hundred and eighty-eight!). A rare look at the earliest of Submarine Tender Sailors - who looked just like these men - and in fact served on that ship during it's time as a Submarine Tender!

The second section is a collection of "Sea Stories" things that happened aboard Submarine Tenders - or in some cases happened TO Submarine Tenders!

The last section is the Deck Log. Open to the public - but most often signed by Submarine Tender Sailors - along with a personal note. You too are invited to sign the deck log.

Above and Beyond.
Sometimes things happen that are so far out of the ordinary - it requires an extraordinary response. Hurricanes, Typhoons, Volcanos, and unfortunately sometimes the aftermath of war. Over the years - Submarines Sailors have volunteered their time and labor to help those in need. Certainly - all of the military has a fine record of such responses - but here we related some stories about the efforts of Submarine Sailors to help those in desperate need. So far only Operation New Life is complete - Hurricane Hugo is "under construction" as is the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. A Typhoon that struck Guam, Hurricane Camille, and several other stories are being worked on.
Only Two Left.
In an extremely rare break with tradition - a Navy Admiral breaks the "Silent Service" tradition to address his concerns about the direction the Navy was taking at the time (May 2000). This is left here as a reminder - a warning about forgetting hard learned lessons.
Tender Jobs:
Still very much under construction - a more "in depth" look at the various jobs aboard a US Navy Submarine Tender.

Current Tender News.
This applied to the active tenders - and obviously - has been - for the most part - discontinued. If there is something significant regarding Land or Cable - we'll of course report it.
Where are they now.
When TenderTale was started - there were still fourteen tenders "afloat" - five active tenders deployed around the world; Proteus was in it's "third life" as the IX-518 Berthing Barge at Bremmerton, WA; Canopus, L. Y. Spear and Dixon had just been inactivated and were at the Inactive Ships Facility, Portsmouth, VA; Sperry was holding at Bremmerton, WA; Nereus was in the Ghost Fleet at Suisun, CA; Gilmore, Orion and Hunley were in the Ghost Fleet at Ft. Eustis, VA.

As time passed - sites both overseas and at home were closed - and more tenders were retired. As these "transitions" occurred - TenderTale kept up with them - tracking all of the tenders activities and locations. The locations of the few tenders still afloat will be tracked - until they are "disposed".

Ship's Office
Frequently Asked Questions:
If I had a penny for every email received asking about how to find so and so - or where to buy a cap/buckle/patch, etc. - well - you get the picture. Such things are covered here.
No where complete - so many people have contributed a lot to make TenderTale what it is today. There are some, though - such as Ben (Frank) Cantrel who spent hundreds of hours of time digging up stuff from musty storage areas of some pretty obscure libraries - I feel they need to be both noted and thanked.
Site Map
An alternative way to find things in TenderTale - every page is listed in one place.
Other Neat Stuff
Thing not necessarily tender related - but likely of interest anyway. A great many Submarine Tender Sailors received training at the Polaris Electronics "A" school - and then advanced training at Guided Missile "C" school at Dam Neck, VA.

A TenderTale - Submarine Tender History - Part I

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